The hits keep coming: Beyonce, Swift and Ed Sheeran shows raise big bucks in Bay Area

Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour arrives at Levi’s Stadium on Aug. 30.

When Taylor Swift’s massive, sold-out Eras Tour stopped in Santa Clara in late July, she did more than break the venue’s curfew (twice) and send 100,000 Swifties into sing-along ecstasy.

She also started a spending spree that cost the local economy tens of millions of dollars.

More of the same is in store when Beyonce brings her Renaissance World Tour to the stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 30, and Ed Sheeran performs there on Sept. 16 (the British pop star also performs the night before at the Fox Theater).

In 2023, elite superstar acts rule the concert world like never before, taking their shows to new heights as they sell hundreds of millions of dollars in tickets and fill massive stadiums around the world.They are also sharing some of the enormous wealth-creation opportunities with the Bay Area.

“Levi’s Stadium was built to attract major sporting and entertainment events to the region, as well as to be an economic engine for the Bay Area community,” says Al Guido, president of the San Francisco 49ers, who operate Levi’s Stadium. “The Eras Tour generated $33 million in economic (local) impact, demonstrating the value this venue provides to the city and its local businesses, working families, and community members.”

“These major events translate into real-world benefits for the surrounding area, and with Beyonce and Ed Sheeran performing as the season’s final two concerts, we believe there will be much more to come.”

While projections for Beyonce and Sheeran’s local economic impact were not available, the two concerts are expected to draw another 100,000 fans to the stadium. These aren’t just for the show. They also eat at local restaurants, book hotel rooms, fill up their gas tanks, and spend enough money to have a significant impact on the local economy.

In an era of post-COVID “revenge spending,” big-name performers aren’t the only ones benefiting from the public’s desire for live entertainment following the long shutdown. It’s also the areas that host these superstars, as the city of Santa Clara and surrounding areas are discovering after three months of three of the world’s biggest music acts performing at Levi’s Stadium.

How big is it? Swift and Beyonce’s tours are expected to gross more than $2 billion each, making them the highest-grossing road shows of all time. And Sheeran’s tour has been selling out venues — according to the Seattle Times, his recent show at Lumen Field in Seattle broke the venue’s concert attendance record, which was previously held by Swift.

Officials in Santa Clara have been buzzing about this season’s lineup and its economic impact. Discover Santa Clara CEO Christine Lawson said there has been a “unprecedented response” to hotel bookings for Swift and Beyonce in particular. Beyonce’s Beyhive has helped almost every room in town sell out. According to Lawson, this is not typical for Levi’s concerts.

“It’s tremendously beneficial for our hotel community, and it says a lot about Beyonce’s pull — especially since it’s on a Wednesday night,” she explained.

Artists such as Beyonce and Taylor have also seen an increase in the number of fans willing to travel to see the same concert tour a second, third, or even fourth time.

“It’s not just that if they live in New York, they only went to that show,” Lawson explained. “A lot of people want to see the show more than once.”

And this is despite the exorbitant ticket prices. Swift’s tour tickets are reportedly around $450 on the primary and secondary markets, while Beyonce’s tickets are even more expensive — around $700. Tickets for Sheeran’s show at Levi’s start around $90 on the secondary market.

“This year has seen the concert business roar back,” says Spin magazine’s editorial director Daniel Kohn. “Thanks to tours by some of the world’s biggest artists, concerts have become cultural events on par with the Super Bowl and World Series.”

However, the benefits of touring success aren’t felt by artists at all levels, according to Kohn. “Touring and making money is difficult for the middle class and emerging artists, and unfortunately, they are the ones who are being squeezed,” he said.

However, in a summer coded Barbie pink that has demonstrated women’s spending power, Beyonce and Swift have demonstrated that women are more than holding their own in the entertainment economy.

While stadium concerts have been around since at least the Beatles’ heyday, the experience of attending these large-scale concerts has undoubtedly changed over the years.

“Stadium music shows have evolved from listening to a live performance for the music to being spectacular productions, like the Superbowl Halftime Show or the Olympics opening ceremonies, but here they are the main act,” says Sanjay Sharma, an adjunct professor of finance and touring industry expert at the University of Southern California. “I believe that this is a genre of entertainment that is evolving as a result of massive investment; it is no longer just about the pyrotechnics or the dresses; it is much more, and you can only feel it in the stadium.”

Although noise and curfew violations have caused controversy at Levi’s concerts, the concerts highlight the powerful impact stadiums can have on a regional community.

Gilmore believes the windfall is felt far beyond Santa Clara.

“People will extend their vacations,” she predicts. “They’ll sleep in San Francisco or San Jose and eat in Sunnyvale or Campbell.” It is not only Santa Clara. In terms of hotel rooms and sales tax, I believe we all benefit.”

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